FLORENCE — Note to Miranda Lambert: The Band Perry set the bar pretty high.
I’m sure you can beat it; I’ve seen you on the Country Thunder stage and you crushed it.
You haven’t been here in a few years; you headlined in 2010. And wow, what a show. I still can picture you strutting that catwalk like you owned it. Your show here tonight will be one for the ages.
But the siblings Perry — Kimberly, Neil and Reid — were here just two years ago, making their Country Thunder debut. They surely have grown as artists and entertainers since then.
On Friday night, before an audience of 25,400, they were an entirely different band than the one we were introduced to back then. Man can they entertain. They jump like gymnasts, run the catwalk like sprinters and bounce up and down like they sat in a bee’s nest. Such fun watching them. That audience barely sat down; every time you did, Kimberly would pump her fists in the air and let loose with a howling lyric that just dared you to keep your seat. Yep, you paid for it, but you surely didn’t need it much throughout the band’s 75-minute show.
Back in 2012, The Band Perry had a single album to draw from. It was a good one, don’t get me wrong. But they dipped into their chest of covers pretty heavily.
On Friday night, the came here as the reigning Academy of Country Music group of the year. They did a couple covers, but not because they had nothing else. The covers served as launching pads for their own stuff. Keisha’s “Timber” took them to their rocker “Chainsaw” then they did a reverse cover — their moving “Pioneer,” the title song off their year-old sophomore album — soared into a gospel-worthy cover of “Amazing Grace.” (The audience served as a mighty fine chorus on that one!)
They also added a big video element. Three monster screens behind them projected them individually. Sometimes, for super dramatic effect, Kimberly was shown times three. It was pretty awesome and made for spectacular photos for the thousands of folks flashing cellphone cameras.
They ended the night with their two biggest hits, the-sobering-yet-not-quite-sad “If I Die Young” and the cautionary tale of “Better Dig Two.” During the latter, the sibs took to giant drums set up on raised platforms at the back of the stage. They banged, then silence. Bang, then silence. And with each bang the audience went absolutely nuts. It was crazy fun.
So there you have it Miranda. Welcome to the 2014 Country Thunder. The energy is off the hook.